Five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) will be aligned and visible at dawn during this month.
©AU / AFP
Throughout the month of June, a rare alignment of the major planets will take place and will be visible to the naked eye. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn meet in the sky at dawn.
Atlantico: For the first time in 18 years, five planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – will be aligned and visible at dawn throughout this month. How rare is this planetary parade phenomenon?
Anna Alter: The play with the five planets in line in order is quite rare on our scale, as this complete parade has not taken place in 18 years, and we live an average of 85.3 years for women, 79.3 years for men. But on a cosmic scale, we count for thousands, millions, or even billions of years, and it seems frequent, even banal … As Einstein said, everything is relative. However, it is worth watching planets go before dawn in a row of bulbs in order of their distance from the Sun. Do not hesitate to get up at 3 in the month of June, arm yourself if possible with binoculars and a little patience, the eyes must get used to the darkness to see clearly or rather to observe the luminous points protruding towards the star vault. And you can not go wrong with looking east over the horizon, they are advancing on the ecliptic, the plane in which this whole little world is evolving. The five planets known in antiquity met, in fact the seven are there and with the Earth under your feet it becomes eight, but Uranus and Neptune turn out because of their weakness only to professional and well-equipped amateurs, why the ancients had never seen them . You have, on the other hand, the entire solar system visible to them unfolded before your eyes. A beautiful procession arranged as follows: the small Mercury closest to the star of the day is level with the easternmost horizon, followed by going up a little by the beautiful Venus, which puts your eyes full of it, and then Mars arrives a little red higher, accompanied a little longer by the great Jupiter, easily recognizable, it is the brightest. Finally comes Saturn, which appears to be wearing a butterfly when viewed with a modest telescope like Galileo 412 years ago. It was in 1610, half a century later, when astronomers would have sufficiently powerful instruments, the Dutchman Christiaan Huygens would reveal that these are the rings that the star wears as decoration about life, and Jean-Dominique Cassini would discover in 1675 at the Paris Observatory that these concentric belts of pebbles are separated by a division bearing his name. In the second half of the 20th century we will know that all the giant planets have them, but that’s a different story….
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When is the best time – and potentially the best place – to observe them from France? Are there things to know to get the best possible experience?
The best time is of course before sunrise and in the absence of the Moon, when the night is very dark. The right place, you can imagine, is far from the city lights, which prevent observation of the sky by shamelessly drowning out the faint stars. It does not matter where, as long as the horizon is clear and there are no clouds …
The planets will usually be visible to the naked eye, how do you recognize them in the sky?
These five are actually visible to the naked eye. We recognize them, 1) because unlike the stars they move and from one night to the next are not quite in the same place 2) since they do not produce light but reflect the sun, they do not blink. Easy to say, but not so easy to see. At least not all of them are in the same boat. Venus and Jupiter are very bright, after the Sun and the Moon they are the two most luminous celestial bodies, therefore easily recognizable. Mars, which almost always orbits next to one or the other or near Saturn, can be recognized by its reddish color, which contrasts with the yellowness of most stars … At the moment, as they say, are all visible at the end of the night … But the best thing is to check their position on a sky map or use an app like Night Sky X. Once you know where to look, you’ll find them.
What does this impression of alignment, literally, of the planets give?
The planets, each rotating at their own pace, randomly in their orbits, are at certain times grouped together on the same side of the Sun and share our corner of the sky at night …
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